Poetry Friday Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Truth Serum”


Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry is filled with love, sensitivity, and compassion. Her work has been a source of solace and inspiration to me for years. So I was thrilled when she was announced as the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture on Monday during the ALA’s Youth Media Awards Announcements. The Arbuthnot Award recognizes “an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site.” I can’t think of a more appropriate choice to share her insights and wisdom in our troubled times.

“Truth Serum”
by Naomi Shihab Nye

We made it from the ground-up corn in the old back pasture.
Pinched a scent of night jasmine billowing off the fence,
popped it right in.
That frog song wanting nothing but echo?
We used that.
Stirred it widely. Noticed the clouds while stirring.
Called upon our ancient great aunts and their long slow eyes
of summer. Dropped in their names.
Added a mint leaf now and then
to hearten the broth. Added a note of cheer and worry.

Read the rest of the poem here.

by Jonathan M. Hethey via unsplash.com
by Jonathan M. Hethey via unsplash.com

Please be sure to visit Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Truth Serum”

  1. Catherine, I have gratitude in my heart for Naomi’s words and for you showcasing them.
    And once we had it,
    had smelled and tasted the fragrant syrup,
    placing the pan on a back burner for keeping,
    the sorrow lifted in small ways.


  2. Have you ever met her in real life? This woman is a force of gentleness. Like this poem she wrote, she will boil it all down and wash the pot and welcome you back for more.


  3. There are so many little moments and images in this poem. The great aunts — yes, I can see them. Amazing that this poem was published in 2005. It could be about now.


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